Customer service shouldn’t be like “Where’s Waldo?”


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Where’s Waldo? Or, as he’s originally known, Wally?

This fictional British character who has a penchant for blending into complex scenes during travel remains a popular part of pop culture. Over his thirty-plus year history, in multiple books and other media, fans have spent countless hours trying to locate him and his friends. As frustrating as it could be, there was a sense of accomplishment when he was found.

Blending into the scene. Difficult to find. Taking much more time than expected. Occasionally frustrating. “Where’s Waldo?” sounds a lot like customers and customer service agents trying to find solutions to problems. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

The customer experience

“Where’s Waldo?” had a consistent formula for its puzzles: discover him amongst a scene crowded with distractions and comprised of characters similar in appearance, along with other red herrings thrown in. This must feel similar to for customers as they visit customer service online and seek solutions to problems.

Most companies’ customer service teams have good intent and don’t intentionally create a puzzle. The problem is they overwhelm the customer with options: thousands of knowledge base articles, both current and out-of-date; pages of difficult-to-navigate FAQs; and online communities that go unmoderated. They create the blurry picture in which the solution is hiding.

But it doesn’t need to be a puzzle for customers. While providing multiple self-service channels like knowledge base articles and online communities meets different customers’ needs, those channels must be regularly curated to ensure a lean collection of answers is available. Where knowledge base article gaps exist, new articles should be created, while existing articles must be regularly reviewed, updated, and retired as needed. Community questions and solutions should be marked as helpful (and made permanent as knowledge base articles). Helpful, frequently-accessed, or critical content in the knowledge base or community should be “pinned,” making it easily visible and accessible to online visitors.

This might minimize the noise and distractions, but discoverability is still a challenge. The log of customers’ searches, including both successful and not, must be analyzed to ensure search terms match keywords, tags, and the language used in knowledge base articles and community posts. Offering a chatbot that delivers a conversational approach to locating content lurking in the knowledge base, community, and other locations also makes it easier for customers to find what they are looking for.

The agent experience

Not every customer will choose to play “Where’s Waldo?” alone and use self-service; they will contact customer service directly. Unfortunately, customer service agents don’t always fare much better than customers in finding answers. But there are several ways to improve the odds.

Start by streamlining their workspace. Ensure that all customer information they need to be successful is accessible from a single system. If they must bring up customer details in one system, check an order status in another, and track a shipment in a third, details are easily lost from this constant switching. Minimizing the number of systems they must check also decreases the time they must spend on issues.

Next, provide them with a sidekick. Waldo might travel alone, but that doesn’t mean customer service agents should. Modern customer service management systems, with the aid of machine learning, monitor agents’ work and offer potential solutions available in knowledge articles, the online community, closed cases, and other sources. A few clues from an assistant can shave time off their work and get customers to a solution faster.

And last, when an agent solves a new problem, make it easy for them to share this information. Automated processes should parse out the details of closed and solved cases to draft a basic knowledge base article. From there, a workflow process can pass it along to the appropriate team for validation, editing, and publishing. By doing this, fellow agents as well as customers will always have access to the latest solutions.

Getting to Waldo faster

Searching for the ever-on-the-go Waldo in a sea of people and activity can get frustrating at times. It might feel like your eyes have covered every inch of the puzzle, yet he eludes you–though you know he’s in there somewhere. It takes patience, and the reward comes in finding him.

How do your customers and customer service agents fare in finding solutions to problems? Take a moment and perform a “Where’s Waldo?” test: see how easy it is for each role to find solutions to common problems. There’s probably more than one opportunity to simplify the picture and make it easier for them to get to the reward–a solution–faster.

Paul Selby
I am a product marketing consultant for Aventi Group. Aventi Group is the first product marketing agency solely dedicated to high-tech clients. We’re here to supplement your team and bring our expertise to bear on your top priorities, so you achieve high-quality results, fast.


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